National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is Sept. 11-17, and while truckers deserve the praise they get this week, there are ways to support them year-round. And we should.
Truck drivers have been important to the country ever since the transportation industry emerged, and they support the American way of life in a way few other professionals do. Without truckers, the conveniences that Americans enjoy, and the necessities that we rely on, would be put in jeopardy.
Americans definitely took notice of drivers and recognized their role in maintaining a healthy supply chain during the pandemic. Indeed, just like frontline medical workers and public safety officials, truckers were designated as essential workers. The designation was well-deserved: Truckers move 72% of American freight.
Truck drivers make sacrifices that should be acknowledged and rewarded. Life on the road is difficult. Long hours are a given, and many truckers do not go home to see their family and friends for weeks at a time. A truck driver is 10 times more likely to be killed on the job than the average American worker.
Truck drivers are essential to this country’s economy, and not everyone is able to do what these hard workers do. Therefore, supporting business policies that benefit truck drivers would also benefit the rest of America.
Local, state, and national economies all depend on the hard work of truck drivers, and it is in the best interest of all Americans to properly incentivize them. Nearly every other industry, including manufacturing, technology, and farming, depends on truck drivers to move their product across the country. Drivers deliver the food we need to live, the technology we need to communicate with each other, the fuel that drives our economy, and almost everything in between.
Supporting environmental and energy policies that benefit truckers, backing initiatives to educate newer truckers through on-the-job and technical training, addressing highway safety, and acting upon the labor concerns of truckers would help to keep truckers on the road and keep the transportation industry strong.
Nearly all of the policies that transportation associations support would benefit more people than just those in the trucking industry – especially increased funding for road-related infrastructure, which would benefit basically every American. Lawmakers and regulators should champion policies that allow truckers to deliver freight more safely and more efficiently to consumers across the nation.
The initiatives that trucking associations support would foster a more pro-business economic environment: Lower taxes and more options for workers are all policies that would help the American economy overall. The trucking industry employs around 8 million people in America, all of whom contribute to the economy as consumers and as workers. The trucking industry is an essential part of the economy, especially as America recovers from the pandemic and navigates supply chain issues.
During the pandemic, we saw that even seemingly slight disruptions in the supply chain caused big problems, from out-of-control price increases to sheer unavailability of necessary goods. As the supply chain recovers, the trucking industry is uniquely positioned to make our nation economically stronger than ever.
It’s difficult to think of another industry that brings Americans together in such tangible ways as the transportation industry does. Truck drivers truly bring Americans together in a great economic network. It’s time we give them more than just one week’s recognition.
Brian Slipka is CEO of Minneapolis-based True North Equity Partners, whose portfolio of over two dozen independent companies includes eight regional and national transportation companies that serve 48 states. More information is available at www.truenorth equity partners.com.